Warm weather produces a short ski season
FINGER LAKES—A warmer winter meant making certain adjustments during the ski season for some of the resorts in the region. “Truly, it was a season of spring skiing,” said Drew Broderick, the director of sales and marketing at Bristol Mountain Winter Resort in Canandaigua.
As a result of the warmer weather, three of the area’s resorts had to call an early end to ski season. Bristol Mountain ended ski activities on Tuesday, March 20. Greek Peak Mountain (located in Cortland) and Swain Resort (Hornell) both closed Friday, March 16. Broderick mentioned for the 2011-12 season, ski facilities at Bristol Mountain stayed open for 100 days. She added that last year, the resort remained open till April 10 and there was a season that lasted 122 days. Despite a shorter season this year, Broderick pointed out Bristol Mountain managed to come through on their promise to season pass holders to have ski activities last at least 100 days.
Kevin Morrin, the sales and marketing director at Greek Peak, said 2011-12 season at the Cortland resort lasted for 93 days. Morrin added in 2010-11, the season was 110 days long and the resort did not close until April 2. Broderick and Morrin both pointed out it was not too much of a problem operating most of the trails at their respective resorts. Broderick explained 31 out of the 34 were open trails at Bristol Mountain this year. Morrin noted 75 percent of the trails were available at Greek Peak.
According the Broderick, the biggest challenge at Bristol Mountain was making snow for the ski slopes. She explained over the course of the season, there were only eight days where weather conditions were below freezing (32 degrees). Broderick also indicated the average temperature was higher in December through February for 2011-12. For December, the average temperature was 9 degrees above that of last winter. It was 11.8 degrees warmer in January and 3.1 degrees higher for February. Natural snowfall was also down by 58 percent.
Since it was difficult to determine when to produce snow, Broderick said snow making staff had a tougher job this year. “We basically had to look at patterns to know then exactly to make snow,” she stated. “We had to work on an hourly-by-hourly basis to find out the right opportunities to make snow.” Broderick also noted the cost of making snow increased compared to last year. However, she did not have an exact amount of the added costs. Broderick mentioned there was no significant drop in skiers compared to years past. However, the number of season passes purchased was down since people were afraid to book anything in advance with temperatures higher than normal.
At Greek Peak, Morrin said it was tough keeping employees at the resort with the warmer weather. “The biggest issue was staffing,” he said. Morrin explained since there were long periods where snow could not be produced, snow making staff would get laid off then be brought back again when the temperature dropped. He did mention the cost of making snow remained the same.
Broderick expressed praise for the extra effort put in by the snowmaking team for helping Bristol Mountain make the most out of what was an unusually warm winter. “There is only so much you can do when Mother Nature is at the helm,” she said.